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Archive for the ‘Trucking’ Category

Truck Manufacturers and Social Media: The Good and Not So Good

Friday, April 13th, 2012

Last year at the Mid America Trucking Show, a keynote speaker dismissed social media as a marketing tool. One year later, all of the major truck manufacturers have jumped on board with social media, with varying levels of success.

 

Freightliner and International are successfully using Facebook and Twitter to engage with their audiences. Freightliner spotlights a truck and its driver on a weekly basis and shares relevant information about its brand including news stories, features, contests and polls that provide incentives for participation. Freightliner’s Facebook page features information and contests related to NASCAR (Freightliner is the official hauler of NASCAR), a great strategy for expanding Freightliner’s audience beyond the trucking world.

 

International frequently shares relevant photographs of company-related events and of its trucks around the world on Facebook. During the 2012 Mid-America Show in Louisville, International made its company historian available for questions via social media.

 

International began tweeting about Mid-America long before the show began and was active on Twitter throughout the three-day event. International often provides rewards for Twitter engagement and is good about keeping its Tweets interesting, Tweeting about holidays and other topical news.

 

Several truck manufacturers are successfully using YouTube. Freightliner, Kenworth, Mack and International all have done a good job of posting videos of new trucks and their features. Freightliner and Mack have featured truck owners and their stories. Freightliner has shared its history and videos of classic Freightliner trucks. International frequently shares driving tips with its owners, and it provided great coverage of MATS, from show set-up to a recap of events. International and Volvo used YouTube to discuss the causes in which the companies are involved.

 

Some truck manufacturers certainly have room for improvement in their social media marketing.  Mack and Peterbilt do not have Facebook pages or have long deserted them. Kenworth is on Facebook but not consistently.

 

Here are some insights into areas that truck manufacturers could improve on in social media:

 

  • None of the truck brands are using the Milestone feature on the new Facebook Timeline format. Posting Milestones would be a great way for these companies to share their brand heritage, especially considering that many truck manufacturers have long and interesting histories.

 

  • Every brand would benefit from engaging consumers and the press on Twitter. As I mentioned before, International provides a great example of how a company can use Twitter to converse with users rather than simply promote itself, and its variety of content makes its tweets more effective. Kenworth, Mack, and Volvo Trucks could benefit from posting more content on Twitter and making the content more varied.

 

  • Google Plus is an up and coming social network with over 100 million users. We recommend that truck manufacturers claim their pages and start using this site for promotion and networking.

 

  • Regularly posting high quality videos on YouTube that cover a diverse range of topics can help increase brand awareness and give fans more to talk about. Kenworth and Western Star could benefit from more diverse content and a higher frequency of video uploads. Because it does not have a YouTube channel, Peterbilt is missing a great opportunity to promote its brand.

 

 

 

I look forward to seeing how truck manufacturers develop their social media strategies in the future as the industry becomes more connected through social networks. Social media is a great opportunity for truck manufacturers to continue to build their brand image and connect more directly with customers and fans. Because the truck industry has a high level of brand loyalty and interest, truck manufacturers can greatly benefit from effectively using social media.

 

Trucking Industry is Getting Social

Friday, April 15th, 2011

I walked the floor at the recent Mid America Trucking Show to get an idea of how quickly the trucking industry is adopting social media and the latest digital technologies.

I found that some companies are very engaged, others are in the process of becoming more involved, and others are sticking their head in the sand – believing that they will lose “control” if they put themselves out there in social media.   Guys, you are already “out there.”  Web 2.0 technologies have significantly shifted the power from institutions to the people.  Get with the program!

Anecdotally speaking, I saw a lot more social media activity than at last year’s show.  The show’s Twitter hashtag was very active, companies were using social media to drive booth traffic, and it was clear that social media is playing a greater role in marketing strategies for many.

 

I liked what I saw from Michelin.  They are actively listening to their customers on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., and according to Michelin Marketing Communications Manager Bianca Hogan, the company has established procedures for engaging with advocates and responding to detractors (when a response is appropriate).

It was music to my ears when Ryan Fisher, account manager with Michelin agency Jackson Marketing Group, described how they conducted research at another trucking show to find out which social media platforms are most used by drivers and owner operators.  We see the opposite all too often; companies wanting to jump into Facebook, Twitter or something else before really analyzing how, where and why their target audiences are using social media.  For the record, they found Facebook to be the main platform with Twitter and YouTube also very popular.  Facebook and YouTube are a great way for these road warriors to stay in touch, personally and professionally, while Twitter is good for sharing the latest news on road delays, weather conditions, etc.

Joan O’Clair, corporate communications and social media manager for TravelCenters of America and Petro Stopping Centers, explained that the company has launched a popular iPhone app. to help customers check fuel prices, utilize the company’s emergency road service and much more.  Phase II of the app. is on its way with restaurant specials and more.

Magnus Koeck, vice president of marketing and brand development for Volvo Trucks North America, said Volvo Trucks has been involved in social media for some time in Europe.  Koeck said he has challenged his team to learn more about New Media because it is obvious that Volvo Trucks’ customers are spending more and more time online.  He said they will soon be adding a digital media specialist to the marketing staff.

It was also great to see the traditional media integrating social media into their offerings.  We had a great conversation with Deborah and Evin Lockridge about how they are using Twitter and other New Media tools at Heavy Duty Trucking magazine.

Then there was the speaker who warned the audience not to get involved in Facebook for security reasons.  Yes, you have to be aware of security issues and have a social media policy in place.  But advising not to get involved is akin to a transportation company in the early part of the 20th Century sticking with mules and wagons because you could lose control of a motorized vehicle’s steering wheel.

 

 

 

Flipping the Funnel in the Trucking Industry

Monday, March 28th, 2011


We will be walking the floor this week at the Mid America Trucking Show, and I’m really interested to find out if trucking industry companies are allocating more of their marketing resources to social media.

Specifically, are they shifting marketing resources from one-way communications (i.e., advertising) to two-way communications (facilitated by social media) with their customers and potential customers?

 

According to McKinsey’s David Edelman in an insightful Harvard Business Review article, companies today are over-emphasizing  the “consider” and “buy” stages at the top of the purchase funnel, continuing to put the lion’s share of their marketing resources into building awareness through advertising.  What they are missing is how consumers today remain engaged with a brand after the purchase . . . talking about it (good or bad) via social media, participating in online forums, etc.  Thanks to Web 2.0 technologies, consumers are now sharing their opinions with people across the globe . . . instantaneously, reaching potentially thousands or millions of others.

 

Consumers today rely heavily on digital interactions to evaluate products.  Products drop in and out of their consideration set during this rigorous process.  And after the purchase, they remain engaged with the brand through social media.

 

Edelman says, “Marketing investments that help consumers navigate the evaluation process and then spread positive word of mouth about the brands they choose can be as important as building awareness and purchase.”

 

Why?  According to McKinsey, two-thirds of the economy is now based on recommendations . . . not the funniest TV ad . . . nor the most eye-catching billboard.  According to Nielson, only 14 percent of people trust ads, while 76 percent trust others’ recommendations.  People in the trucking industry have always placed a heavy emphasis on word-of-mouth.  After all, if you’re making a six figure investment in a tractor, you want to hear the opinions of your peers.

 

Still, though, many marketers focus on media spend (typically 80 – 90 percent of their budget) that hits consumers at the “consider” and “buy” stages all while consumers are increasingly influenced during the evaluation stage and what Edelman calls the “enjoy-advocate-bond” stages.

 

What to do?  First, carefully analyze all the touch points for your target consumers and which channels are most influencing their decisions.  Go beyond analyzing paid media; also think about “earned” media such as online communities, blogs and product review websites.

 

Then, shift some of your budget to funding the people and technology required to create and manage content for a plethora of online channels.  We’re talking two-way communications here; time consuming yes, but so worth it.

I’ll report back next week on what I find.  In the meantime, enjoy the show!  Don’t forget to follow  http://twitter.com/truckingshow and the #mats hashtag on Twitter.  Give us a follow as well. http://twitter.com/JTMarCom